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Nightwish - Dark Passion Play CD (album) cover

DARK PASSION PLAY

Nightwish

 

Progressive Metal

3.83 | 153 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars Symphonic Power metal with Celtic flavours...

With Tarja being moved on in a whirlwind of Gothic dust, Anette Olzon joined Nightwish and injected a new passion and enthusiasm to the band. This amazing album begins with a 13 minute symphonic metal epic, with Anette sounding crystal clear and emotional among all the orchestral strings and grinding distorted guitars.

'The Poet and the Pendulum' certainly opens this release in a blaze of glory, with massive crescendos and some absolutely sumptuous strings. There is a passage of high octave vocals like an angelic choir layered over dreamy cello and synth strings, and the odd harp glissando. This is ultra dramatic music with some hyper orchestrations and downright chilling soundscapes. The violins are frenetic at one point and are joined by galloping metal riffs and a tirade of percussion and bass. Marco adds some growling vocals but they are not too intrusive. It ends with gorgeous vocals, dreamy piano and symphony. Overall, this is one of the greatest Nightwish songs in their extensive catalogue.

'Bye Bye Beautiful' is a fan favourite, featuring a heavy driving beat and an emphasis on the aggressive vocals of Marco. I prefer the female vocals and a more melodic approach with Nightwish. One of the most popular songs of recent years is 'Amaranth' which is rather heavy in rhythm and very melodic, with Anette adding just the right amount of grandeur to the wall of symphonic sounds. The choppy riff of Emppu's guitar on this track is excellent and it has an innovative structure ranging from bone crushing riffing to gentle piano by Tuomos.

'Cadence of Her Last Breath' has a pulsating rhythmic riff and more stabs of orchestra. Anette's voice is multi tracked and harmonised well with the gritty distortion and omnipresent strings. There is a thrash feel in 'Master Passion Greed', perhaps one of the fastest and heaviest, with Marco dominating on verses and then a mixture of symphonic and Anette joining him in the chorus. Jukka's drumming is supersonic in places and really drives along powerfully.

'Eva' begins with soft piano, strings and woodwind, and Anette really serenades with sweet tones. This is Nightwish in their melancholy mood, and they are able to provide some emotional moody scapes of immeasurable beauty. 'Sahara' is another melodic rocker that is a grower. The chugging riffs return with 'Whoever Brings the Night' sounding dark and more prone to a metal sound. The chorus builds with some intriguing choral vocal intonations and strings.

There is Celtic flavour present in 'The Islander' with flute, acoustics and stormy effects. Marco uses clean vocals and sounds a bit like Guy Manning. The theme that is concentric on a sea voyage further augments the Celtic sound. The albatross even makes an appearance, along with watery ghosts, bringing to mind the legend of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. It builds to a twin violin solo and is very different to other Nightwish tracks and stands out as a result.

'Last of the Wilds' is an instrumental that follows seamlessly with more thunder and Celtic flute and violin, though the metal riffing guitar returns to up the tempo and atmosphere. I really like this side of Nightwish with the compelling music mixing folk prog with heavy guitars; it works so well. Emppu's lead break is a welcome embellishment along with some fragrant flute and tinkling keyboards.

'7 Days to the Wolves' is next and I expected some heavier material after all the Celtic flavours, and was not left waiting long. The drums pound heavily and then a metal riff crunches in with some violin serrations, sounding like Rammstein. Anette is back on harmonised vocals and Marco joins her later as the sound gets heavier. A lead break is heard briefly and then after a chorus the song breaks into a new time sig with some dramatic violins and faster drums. This is a terrific passage of music, and is augmented with more vocals but the song has changed, until it moves back to the measured rhythm; a great song reminding me of the style of Ayreon in places.

The last track is 'Meadows of Heaven' opening with melancholy strings and Celtic flute again, which really sounds dreamy and peaceful. Anette is sensuous on crystalline vocals, and this builds to a grandiose orchestration creating a wall of sound with the band at their most bombastic and emotionally charged.

Overall, this is a quality release from Nightwish, showcasing the new talents of Anette Olzon and focussing on symphonic orchestrations throughout. Some of the tracks are masterpieces such as the opener, and others seems to glide by unnoticed such as for the poppier 'For The Heart I Once Had'. The Gothic element is omnipresent and it is consistent in terms of quality musicianship, providing enough balance between metal and symphonics. I was very impressed with "Dark Passion Play"; an enjoyable listen with some tracks worthy of the bands' growing reputation as leaders in Symphonic metal.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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